Do stepparents have an obligation to support children from outside the marriage?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My ex-wife has is remarried to a very wealthy new spouse so she has decided to stop working. I pay child support to her, which she is wanting to substantially increase despite her being financially well off.

I understand that her income from work can be imputed for child support calculations. What else can be considered as income? Does the fact that her new husband completely supports her play a factor?

Answer:

First, let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in the state of Kentucky. The information in the article is general in nature. You should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction immediately to discuss your options.

You are correct; your wife’s prior level of income can be imputed to her. Most states will impute income to someone who is voluntarily under- or unemployed. An imputation of income will be based on her prior earning ability or her projected earning ability based on her education level.

Generally, a stepparent has no obligation to support children from outside the marriage. The law generally recognizes that children should be supported by their biological parents.

However, more states are beginning to recognize the impact a second family has on child support obligations. For example, in Ohio disparity in income between parties or households is in consideration when requesting a deviation or adjustment to the child support amount, outside the state guidelines.

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in Kentucky to further discuss the specifics of your situation and how the laws of Kentucky will apply to your case. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Kentucky.

 

Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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6 comments on “Do stepparents have an obligation to support children from outside the marriage?

    I was married to my soon to be ex husband for 9 years, and living as man and wife for 11 years. I had one son who was 4 when we moved in together. In my previous divorce the biological father has to pay no child support and he does not get visitation per the divorce decree. He has not see my no 14 yr old son since he was 11 months old. My soon to be ex raised my son and he only found out this past year after kids at school were asking about his last name, that he was not his biological father. During the seperation, he swore up and down that he will pay child support because “that is his son”….. now that it is down to court, he has since changed his mind, even though he still gets often. we are currently doing 60/40 visitation because we live in the same town. I think that if he pushes so hard for 40% of the time with him….. why is it legal for him to drop him on the divorce papers and suddenly say he doesn’t have to pay anything to help support him, but “he’s welcome here anytime, and can still call me dad” If there was a vomit emjoi, I would insert it here —

    I live in Deep East Texas and we have been living in seperate houses for a year now and should have our first court date this month….. just wondering why his lawyer thinks it’s okay not to mention my son at all in the whole divorce, with our other two daughters that he so proudly claims……. for 11 years he called him son, and my son called him daddy….. and now, he can choose to tump my sons life upside down and say that he has no financial obligation…?? Doesn’t seem right

    unemployed father
    What happens if the biological father is unemployed and the biological mother goes after him for child support? Will they take money from the biological father’s current wife since he’s unemployed?

    Stepchildren child support
    Generally, a stepparent has no obligation to support children from outside the marriage. The law generally recognizes that children should be supported by their biological parents. Under Texas law, a stepparent generally does not have an obligation to support a current or former stepchild. As such the stepparent’s income cannot be considered in determining the net resources of the household or parent when the child support amount is determined under guideline child support. See Tex. Fam. Code § 154.069

    Concerned
    After being married over 5 years, found out that husband has 2 other children which comes to live in the home. Would the stepparent be obligated to pay child support if divorce; for the state of Texas?

    Stepparent obligations
    From the wording of your question I cannot tell exactly what state benefits you are referring to, so I can only assume you are referencing the Texas State Benefits.

    Under Texas law, you are correct; a stepparent generally does not have an obligation to support a current or former stepchild. As such the stepparent’s income cannot be considered in determining the net resources of the household or parent when the child support amount is determined under guideline child support. See Tex. Fam. Code § 154.069. As such, if you were ordered to pay child support, your spouse’s net resources would not be included in the calculation.

    Since I practice exclusively in the area of domestic relations, I cannot advise you on the specifics of your question regarding the Texas State Benefits, however, what I can tell you is that if you would like to attempt to enforce the biological father’s child support obligation you can contact the Office of the Attorney General for assistance in doing so.

    Please contact an Attorney that specializes in state and federal assisted welfare programs for more answers or to get specific advice relating to your situation. Please be advised that my answering of this question does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

    Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located in 18 states.

    [i]Jennifer Hankinson is a Staff Attorney in the Dallas, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hankinson is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Hankinson received her bachelors’ degrees in both Finance and Political Science from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She later received her Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where she graduated Cum Laude. [/i]

    Ms.Giny Allen
    I would like to know if the step parent has no obligation to support a step child,then why is it when you need help from the state they look @ what the step father makes & not what the biological father does or does not pay in child support.I have re-married,my husband pays $900.00 in child support & the bio father is suppose to pay $265/month(he pays $0.00)per month.I can not get any body to answer this question.My husband & I both lost our jobs & in this day it is very difficult.Can you please help,I live in Texas.

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